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Al From discusses ``The New Democratics and the Return to Power.''

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Elizabeth Warren 4, Clinton 4, Washington 4, Maryland 3, Detroit 3, New York 3, Massachusetts 2, United States 2, Obamacare 2, Pennsylvania 2, Bill Clinton 2, Shriver 2, Tony Blair 2, Muskie 2, Paul Tsongas 2, Germany 1, Virginia 1, India 1, Florida 1, Sequim Washington 1,
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  CSPAN    Washington Journal    Al From discusses ``The New  
   Democratics and the Return to Power.''  

    January 12, 2014
    12:00 - 12:41am EST  

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gone to hollywood and are solicited by the church to come to the celebrity center how to get ahead in the business soared gets an agent. .".hewitt sunday on "q&a >> "washington journal" continues. host: joining us is a longtime politico and another of a new book "the new democrats and the return to power." when >> guest: i came to this town a long time ago.
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i was in graduate school at the school of journalism at northwestern and we launched what now is the washington program in 1966. i was supposed to go back and work at the chicago daily news but i ran into a friend, a friend of mine who became a key confidant to sergeant shriver in the war on poverty and got recruited to work on the war on poverty so i have been here ever sense. the first job actually was the most incredible job and a young journalist could have because sergeant shriver didn't trust the bureaucrats to tell them what was going on in the poverty programs so he hired a bunch of young lawyers and journalists like me to go around the country and write in-depth reports on what was going on. i got assigned to do the deep south and much of my political philosophy was really shaped in
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those years. >> host: so, where was your trajectory? who else worked for you over the years? >> guest: well, i spent two and a half years on the war on poverty and then i went to work on capitol hill and worked for senator joe tidings of maryland who was in those days chairman of the senate judiciary committee before home rule. in fact while i was on the district committee we pass the home rule and be built the subway and redid the courts and started the first narcotics treatment center citywide in the country. then, after the people of maryland decided that senator tidings spent too much time in the district and not enough time in maryland or for whatever reason they did not reelect him i went to work for senator ed muskie of maine where he ran the intergovernmental relations for eight years and then spent two
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years in the white house -- the carter white house. i was the deputy pfizer to secretary -- president carter and for those who said the carter administration didn't get anything done we got the polls higher. i then went up and i became director of the house democratic caucus and that is where really we started the new democrat movement. and in 1984, really at the beginning of 85 after the mondale landslide loss, a bunch of governors and senators and congressman including the clinton and al gore and sam nunn and chuck rap formed the democratic leadership council and i formed it with them. that became the vehicle for changing the democratic party and ending what was a pretty long losing streak for
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presidential elections. >> host: what you mean when you say the new demo rats? >> guest: well the new democrat, sort of the tagline for the political movement that we started. if you recall in the 1980s the democrats suffered the three worst defeats in electoral college votes in the history of american politics. no party had ever lost a high percentage of electoral votes in three consecutive elections than the democrats had since the beginning of parties in 1828. and essentially the great new deal coalition that sort of split asunder and we were losing overwhelmingly. so our reform movement was called the new democrats. but we tried to do was reconnect the democratic party with its first principles, and opportunity for all. equal opportunity for all special privilege for none.
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americorps and on the opportunity side during the clinton years we created 22.5 million new jobs and got the economy roaring. the sort of tough-minded internationalism of roosevelt and truman. base sense of social justice of johnson and very importantly, very importantly as we look ahead roosevelts first renovation, the constant effort to reform government because democrats believe government is an important agent for our collective wills and to help people help themselves and each other. we have always believed reforming government and we collect reinventing government was absolutely essential to our agenda. >> host: as we go along we want your participation in this conversation as well with al from. "the new democrats and the return to power" is the name of the book and the segment democrats only calling 20 only
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calling (202)585-3800 for democrats and eastern central timezones 585-3881 if you're a a democrat and you live in the mountain and pursue big and further west timezones. we want to hear from you and discussion about the democratic party. al from the dlc is no longer, is that correct? >> guest: is actually dormant. it's now part of the clinton foundation. >> host: it was cast in you tell me if this was fair and you write about this in your book but it was cast as kind of a conservative democrat. is that a fair description? >> guest: i don't really think it's a fair description. what i really think we did was turn the party to the first principles. in a sense progressive government was in deep jeopardy not only in the united states but all over the world. all over the world conservative parties were dominant and what we tried to do is modernize liberalism in a way that people would support it again.
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because we supported ideas like welfare reform people said oh you are conservative but to me the idea of moving people out of poverty from welfare welfare tos a liberal idea. we changed the incentives of the welfare to work system. we took on the crime problem with an idea called community policing, putting police back in the neighborhood. i actually picked that up from an african-american jewish police in charleston south carolina named rubin greenberg. that change the whole policing system all over the country and had a remarkable impact both on preventing crime and on reducing crime. the idea like charter school like john kennedy's ethic of asking people to give something back to their country. the national service became americorps so i don't believe those ideas are conservative ideas. i believe they are sort of an
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extension of the great liberal principles that were so important to this country in the middle of the 20th century. >> host: when you hear the word progressive what does that mean? if someone says i'm a progressive? >> guest: i think it's someone who looks ahead. i mean look, progressive has a lot of meanings to a lot of different people. to meet somebody who wants to have robbers in our society who wants to make our society constantly better into me that can be done with government playing a role but it also has to involve individual responsibility and a big private role. the key for progressive government to me actually is private-sector economic growth. when i was a young man a long time ago paul tsongas, the late senator paul tsongas told me the problem with the democratic party as we spend so much time passing out the golden eggs we forget about the health of the goods. to me you have to worry about the health of the goose and grow
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the economy. if you create more wealth for everybody then you have the ability to deal with income inequality by redistributing some of it. >> host: during the 90s when bill clinton was president we had the third way. and you are part of that, weren't you? part of the forming of the third way? what was that and is it an effective way to govern? >> guest: i think it's the only way to govern and the most effective. the third way actually is in the united states it was called the new democrats. in great written tony blair called it new labor and in germany schroeder called the new middle. essentially, tony blair actually gave the best definition. he said it's not a compromise between liberalism and conservatism. it's the modernization of liberalism but it's constantly modernizing your government. it goes to the points i talked about and what bill clinton norris talked about were three
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words, opportunity, responsibility and community. those were sort of the underlying themes of the ideas included americorps welfare reform fiscal discipline. , increasing. and reinventing government charter schools community placing. basically ideas that dealt with concerns people had in their everyday lives. >> host: al from is a guess and here's the cover of the book "the new democrats and the return to power" and the return to the -- "the new democrats and the return to power." what are some of the dangers that democrats face today? >> guest: the democrats right now have a demographic advantage. the republicans in the 1980s michael barone used to call the democrats the stupid party. and i think the republicans in recent elections haven't acted very smartly. in the 2000 election for example
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they basically told hispanic voters and activists women we don't want your vote. as long as they continue on that path, the democrats will have a demographic advantage but in the 1980s the republicans have had that some of -- demographic advantage. for the democrats i think the challenge is to have a solid economic growth agenda so we can create the wealth we need to do other things we want to do. and to constantly reform government. the most important thing president obama can do in the next year is continue economic recovery. we have the best growth quarter in years at 4.1%. if we continue that at that rata lot better for a lot of people in this country but the second thing is we have got to fix obamacare is. obamacare is a good rob graham. it's the right structure.
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it's a private insurance program. i don't understand all the conservatives who are so angry about obamacare. either you have a system which if you want to cover everybody and help sick people and people with conditions either you have a system that allows him to get private insurance and that would have to be for some people government subsidies to do that or you have socialized medicine. we chose the private system. now, it's tricky and you have to organize the market in the best way get a lot of people in the pool because the way insurance works is healthy people basically pay to treat sick people so that later in their lives when they get sick other healthy people will pay for them. that is what insurances and that is how auto insurance works. but if you're going to have a private system and that is what we chose, that is why you need this individual mandate.
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if everybody doesn't participate than the healthy people don't participate and premiums will be out of sight and who is going to pay for the cost? it won't be insurance and it will have to be a subsidy system. >> host: al from before we go to calls this is the article in buzzfeed. al from says obama hasn't given direction to his party. you stay here, you are quoted as saying he has provided less direction than i expected, less aggressive leadership one way or another. >> well i think, the president has a very important role to set the tone of the debate and i think in too many cases this president has not done that. and i hope he does more. i think most of the things, i agree with most of the things he has tried to do but one of the things a president has to do,
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he's the only person in this country who speaks for the whole country. i just wish he would speak out more. >> host: a lot of talk, there has been some conversatconversat ion going on about elizabeth warren and a populist approach and a progressive approach to politics and policy. what do you think about elizabeth warren? >> well, i don't follow everything elizabeth warren says or does. i'm sure she has been a good senator for massachusetts but look, one of the things i have learned with politics over my, and i hate to say this but almost 50 years in politics is that it's a lot easier to have rhetoric and promise things than it is to actually deliver. in the end of the democratic party in power it's how you deliver. president obama delivers a 4.1% growth rate for the rest of 2014. his approval rating is going to go straight up.
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he doesn't have to promise that he's going to get this done or that done. you get judged on your performance. bill de blazio who is the new, will be the mayor of new york as of january 1 ran against stop-and-frisk and a lot of things like that. the first appointment you made was bill bratton as police commissioner who created that system. and so you know i don't get excited about rhetoric. everybody i think in the democratic party has progressive goals. everybody wants to see you know, wants to see people do better and to deal with income inequality and the question it turns out in the end how you do it and let me give you a good example. there's a big debate on minimum wage right now. the minimum wage needs to be raised as it hasn't been raised in a long time but to me that's not enough because for the
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liberal position what i call the liberal or progressive position nobody nobody works full-time year-round in america at to support a family out to be poor. now what liberals ought to be doing is looking for the most effective way to do that. to me, that's raising the minimum wage somewhat probably the level president obama's talking about which is the tend to 15 range but then expanding the honor and income tax credit which is the best targeted this way to help working poor people. in 1993 when we had the expansion of the unearned income tax credit was the largest effective anti-poverty in they country. the question isn't goals. the question often maybe he means and they are debates the country ought to have. >> host: al from's books "the new democrats and the return to
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power" and the forward was written by bill clinton. democrats only during the segment and dan is a democrat calling from tulsa oklahoma. go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: yeah i was a local work and worked in michigan and wisconsiwisconsi n and illinois and those states up there. the taxes were extremely high. i have also done some research and looked at history that the city of detroit was controlled by democrats. well they are going bankrupt. i'm a democrat democrat. i support the unions. this is really sad that you pass a bill and you don't read it. now we are finding out that the insurance for my friends and family and people i'm associated with, it's just not there. it's just not right and i've noticed that the younger people nowadays are less responsible
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than in my generation when i was younger. i was warning 53. therefore i'm saying that they are not going to do what you wanted to do. they are not going to sign up and it's going to cause chaos. >> host: danny i think we got the point. let's get a response from al from. >> guest: danny, that's exactly why we need the individual mandate. it's just like auto insurance. if you drive the cars in most states you have to have auto insurance. the reason we have the mandate that says everybody has to have insurance, health insurance and if you don't you face a fine and i'm not sure the details of when but fairly shortly. i think if you don't have health insurance by march 31, you have to pay a fine is doing courage the young people to, healthy people to buy health insurance. you know i think what we have to do is see how it works.
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everybody wants to cover people who have pre-existing conditions and people who are sick, but we have to have a system that requires healthy people to buy health insurance. now if they don't do it then we will have to figure out how we are going to pay for it but let's give obamacare is the opportunity to actually go into force and see how the mandate works with medicare initially, with the prescription drug program initially. we had a few months of a shaky start but then it turned out to work very well and be very popular. so i think it's important that we don't rush to judgment. it's terribly unfortunate that hhs and the white house screwed up the web site to start because that focused on the failings of a part of the program that i
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think publicly should have been done right. but let's wait and see how this program works because when the mandate kicks and then people have to buy, if they don't then they will be fined. >> host: bill from washington. go ahead, bill. >> caller: good morning and it's pronounced sequim washington. >> host: thank you. >> caller: anyways, i started movement in my community and a lot of people are interested in this. if you ask anybody in the country, would you donate 10, 20, 50, 100 bucks to clean up politics in this country my idea for that is to getting our representatives to commit and sign up pledge that they will give more than $100 in contributions to any one person or any one thing. it would be amazing how much money they would race by doing this. if you could get the money out
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of politics than we could have a clean government again. i sent a letter to the editor and i'm only going to read a couple of mine -- lines here. can you imagine politicians not taking orders from mr. big? can you imagine a representative spending two-thirds on -- and set a fund-raising? everybody is interested in this and they should be and i guarantee you if i was out debating with somebody that was opposite i would send them out out -- because i'm only interested in taking care of my constituents. >> host: bill, we will get a responds from mr. from for your question but why are you a democrat? >> caller: i've generally been for the working guy most of my life and the conservatives are fighting against the union. when they are busting the unions they are fighting against the middle class. >> host: thank you.
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mr. from. the. >> guest: well, there was a former governor and senator from florida named lawton chiles who was elected i think to the senate in 1970 and then in the early 1990s was a two-term governor. he always had a limit on what he would take. first it was $10 in contributions and then it was 100. i could always max out to him but you know i would love to see money reduced in politics. the supreme court has ruled that money is free speech essentially and so it's probably not going to happen but the other important reform that we need to have is we need to have congressional redistricting. because right now most
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congressicongressi onal seats, not all of them but probably 90% of party safe. if you are in a republican seat you are going to win, you were going to win that district almost every time and the only way you will be challenged as if you get challenged in the primary by another republican. redistricting so skewers the democratic outcome that in the 2012 election democrats won 1 million votes for the house of representatives than the republicans but because of where the districts were drawn republicans had the majority of seats in the house and probably will keep them this year again because of the way the districts are drawn. >> host: d. d tweets in isn't it true that wages are low because of nafta and. deals and imported labor? democrat ported policies? >> guest: i don't believe that is the case. i will admit i'm not an economist but incomes tend to
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grow when the economy grows and when more people are working and we produce a higher-quality product and higher cost products when we had nafta and the traded raymond's incomes went up to kiss the economy was growing rapidly. the challenge is to grow the economy to create more wealth. if there is more wealth -- and then governments government's role is to help sort it tempered the market so that everybody has a chance to benefit from that wealth that increase growth and wealth. the other thing that is very important is we want to get incomes up we will really have to fix the education system particularly in the inner cities. the gentleman before from detroit, detroit graduates so
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few young african-american males every year from high school that they can't, that there is no way that they can grow that economy and get incomes up. we have got to fix the education system so people have the skills to get higher paying jobs. >> host: al from who do you see today is some of the new democrats that may be in the future could take on the mantle of leadership? >> guest: i think there are a lot of them. they're a new democrats all over the country. obviously the most obvious one that people talk about is hillary clinton who is a big part of the story in my book. but you have governors, andrew cuomo john hickenlooper jack mark of delaware a young brilliant governor from delaware you have people like mark warner in the senate and a lot of people talk about senator joe manchin but even more than that all over the country and cory
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booker is another. cory booker is a great disciple of these politics. all over the country at the state and local level, you have these emerging leaders. in 2000, the year 2000 the year clinton left the white house we at the dlc did 100 g.i.s -- 100 rising stars and looked at people who are not yet in statewide office. out of the people we picked i think eight or nine of them have been governors. a number of them senators including chris coons who is now a senator from delaware, from delaware. so you know danny molloy the governor of connecticut. so one of the great things that happened because of the clinton years in the 1990s as a whole generation of leaders sort of adopted this politics. it it's not always obvious and
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the congressional level to be honest with you. washington is so dominated by the interest groups and debates but around the country where people have to deliver services you have this breed of young elected officials that i think those well for the country and i hope the same is true on the republican side even though i'm not familiar with that. >> host: "the new democrats and the return to power" is the name of the book and al from is the author. democrats only during the segment. susan from virginia. hi season. >> caller: hi, good morning. i am a very conservative fiscal person and a democrat and i would like to see more of our parties focus on emerging minorities in this country that don't have a voice, especially at you know the local elections where they aren't being heard from. also we need to have the voice of women.
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the names that you just put out there i didn't hear any women except for hillary clinton. we have a huge town full of women and minorities, male and female, and we need transparency in our government finances. i don't care what party it is. people are starving for that. >> host: susan? are you a longtime democrat or have you been a democrat for a while? >> caller: yes and i'm very active in local politics. >> host: would be think of hillary linton and 2016? >> caller: i'm going to say something that may offend some democrats but i think we need new faces, new voices. it's like bush won, bush two, bush three. i don't want that. >> host: who is a new face you would like to see right now? >> caller: i really like the way that elizabeth warren talks about finance and money and how
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everything should be out in the open. and then you know my husband who was elected in a local election, mr. singh who has been here a long time from india, he speaks really openly about you know the numbers in local elections and county budgets. we have to start there, so people can see where their tax dollars go. >> host: susan thank you for your time this morning. al from, comments for her? >> guest: susan, i'm sorry. i should've mentioned a number of women including senator gillibrand in new york who is a real rising star. there is a woman, a dear friend of mine who is running for governor of pennsylvania named allyson schwartz, congressman from pennsylvania, from philadelphia who is running for governor who would be a terrific leader for our party and for the country.
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so women all over our political system and hopefully there will be more of them participating. you know, the question of, you started by talking about physical -- fiscal discipline and i think fiscal discipline is important but the goal of a fiscal policy is to create a firm foundation for growing the economy. talents in the budget, which we did incidentally in the 1990s, and is only important as a means to try to have a firm foundation for economic growth. and so, and i believe that we do need to get our country on a sound fiscal course. .. i t it a
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tough. we have to address the tax reform question. we have to look at entitlements now we modernize them. it is easy to say we are never going to touch medicare or social security. if you want to say then and want them to be for future generations, you have to modernize and fix them so we can pay for them in future generations. these are very important questions. in my book i have an idea that probably a lot of people think would be crazy. i will like to get rid of the payroll tax and replace it with the green tax. if the green tax isn't enough, then i would use the reform income tax. we have been borrowing from the social security trust come for
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bank.s as a piggy the payroll tax is a large impediment for work. who somebodyke me might want to hire as a consultant, they are willing to pay both sides of my payroll tax. they compete for people at the high end. if you're a low income worker, employers tend to keep salaries down so in effect you are paying both sides of the payroll tax. i think we would increase employment significantly in this country. those are some of the interesting new ideas. i'm sure they would be subject to real debate that i propose in my book. host: we always here in primaries, the republicans run to the right and democrats run to the left and meet in the middle during the general.
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democrats have to run to the left to get elected in primaries? just like the republicans do to the right? guest: i think the answer is no. the democratic artie has always thana more diverse party the republican party. the dirty little secret of the new democratic movement in 1992 was about two thirds of the democrats self identified democrats were also self identified as moderate or conservative. the liberals made the noise and were most active in the primaries. they got in the press all the time. we knew if we ran a sensible, smart campaign, we would have broad appeal. the republicans, a little different. 60% areblicans about
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hard conservatives. bill clinton and one primaries that included welfare reform and charter schools and reinventing government, mitt romney is forced to talk about cell deportation of immigrants. i do not know mitt romney very well but i watched him in massachusetts. that doesn't seem to me to be the same person. he was forced by his primary to move to the right and that hurt him very much in the general. and go through my book follow the course of the new democratic movement and the clinton campaign, i think you will see nobody is completely 100% consistent on anything. we were able to run the same campaign through the primaries and the general election. four i'm going to read
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quick tweets. i will call them progressive democrats come all across the same line. guest: i just think they are wrong. i think the record of the clinton administration belies all of that.
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23.5 million jobs and income is going up. crime is going down. 8 million people move from welfare to work. the best environmental record since teddy roosevelt. the idea of the new democrats is not abandoned democratic principles but to make sure we can further them. you have to further them with new ideas. the candidates in 2016 are going to have to have a new version, a new set of ideas. the basic principles is a core regressive democratic value. the idea that people have a responsibility to take advantage of that opportunity and to give something back to the commonwealth is a core democratic value. and a lot of so-called progressives like to ignore this. criticalvernment is a
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liberal value. , part of thebook intellectual roots of our movement came from franklin roosevelt avenue from senator ed muskie. he did a speech at the liberal party in new york where he said that efficient government is not an abandonment of liberal goals because ifal to them government is the vehicle that progressive want to use to achieve big important social end s, and people need to have faith in government. people lost faith in government and we had to come in and the clinton administration restored america's faith in government. it is essential all the rhetoric aside on both sides, that in the
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end of him a carrot works, the ghost people have to have faith that big government programs work. theney do not have faith, democrats will have a hard time using government to do the good things we want it to do. host: is hillary clinton going to run for president? and if she does, will you support her? guest: if she runs, i will be right there. is she going to run? i have no idea. host: hillary clinton, elizabeth tweet. 2016 from this and we have this tweet. is different than clinton and carter. he is a transformational
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politician. he has change this country in ways that we can never go back. has -- i think in 2012 at the convention, president clinton made the argument for president obama that publicly in clintonian terms. but at the end of the eight years, we will look back and say if we haveve -- three more years of similar economic growth, i think people will think very highly of president obama. host: this book, "the new democrats and the return to power," is al from's autobiography and the history of the democratic party. al from has b
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look at this crowd. okay. how are you? that's all right. do you know, what? we don't have any secrets. >> you are doing great. >> workings of the times and the people will be very pleased tomorrow morning if not on the f